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Message from OAS Secretary General on World Refugee Day

  June 20, 2019

Today, World Refugee Day, is not a reason to celebrate for the more than 4 million Venezuelans who have fled from hunger, disease, and the persecution of the inhuman dictatorship of Maduro.

On this day we want to send from the OAS a message to all Venezuelans in the region and in the rest of the world: you are not alone. Today we commemorate you, but also the other 364 days of the year, and we are making all possible efforts to alleviate the suffering you are undergoing as a result of leaving everything behind in your country and trying to survive. We are aware, but we cannot imagine the depth of the daily pain of the difficulties you face: trying to find jobs to support your families inside and outside of Venezuela, looking for somewhere new to live, finding education for your children in a new country, regularizing your situation, fighting against prejudice and in some cases xenophobia. In sum, building a new life from scratch.

There are no more excuses for the delay in granting Venezuelans refugee status through the Cartagena Declaration of 1984 that expands the concept of refugee in its third conclusion that also considers refugees “persons who have fled their country because their lives, safety or freedom have been threatened by generalized violence, foreign aggression, internal conflicts, massive violation of human rights or other circumstances which have seriously disturbed public order.” All the above reasons are met in the case of Venezuela.

The OAS, from the Working Group on the Crisis of Venezuelan Migrants and Refugees, has repeatedly asked member states to approve as soon as possible a resolution that resolves the refugee status, and to commit all the countries of the hemisphere to afford that treatment to the Venezuelans.

The Venezuelan refugee crisis is unprecedented in our region. The number of refugees is only exceeded by Syria, a country that is engaged in a civil war. It is important to grant the status of refugees to Venezuelans, because failure to do so underestimates the magnitude of the crisis and suggests that the international community of the hemisphere is only misleading itself.

The needs of the people are superlative. The refugee-receiving countries need all the support to alleviate the economic and social impact of high refugee flows, which will not diminish soon.

The OAS stands with the Venezuelan refugees and will continue to defend and advocate for their rights.

Reference: E-041/19